It’s not transfer deadline day, but here are some key signings from Aug. 31

Traditionally, the end of August heralds transfer deadline day in the summer window. The coronavirus pandemic has put paid to that this year, pushing the date back to Oct. 5 for most leagues, but today should originally have seen players on the move, breaking news, exciting rumours and enticing late developments. Now it’s just an ordinary day like any other.

This season the league themselves voted to move deadline day back to Sept. 1 to avoid clashing with a bank holiday (a decision made back in February), and of course that was before a global pandemic knocked the whole football calendar completely out of sync.

In a bid to ease the anticlimax, here’s a timely run-through of some of the more notable deals to have been struck on Aug. 31 in recent years, and a brief glimpse at how they ultimately panned out for the parties involved.

*All fees taken from Transfermarket.

2017: Kylian Mbappe to PSG, Loan then €160m

Mbappe has gone on to become one of the world’s best young players. FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images

Having attained “teenage sensation” status at Monaco, Mbappe made his first move toward the big time when he signed for Ligue 1 giants PSG, initially on a season-long loan.

Of course, the really big transfer was delayed until the following summer when Mbappe joined the Parisians on a permanent basis for €160m and became the second-most expensive player in existence in the process.

Mbappe has since collected eight trophies in three seasons with PSG as well as a World Cup with France and three Ballon d’Or shortlist nominations, and he’s still only 21. Not too shabby.

2017: Moussa Sissoko to Tottenham, £31.5m

Spurs edged out Everton in their pursuit of Newcastle midfielder Sissoko, who eventually chose north London over Merseyside.

Despite being relegated with Newcastle, Sissoko impressed with a series of gallivanting displays for France at Euro 2016, leading many to believe Spurs had pulled off quite the coup.

In reality, the 31-year-old has been consistently inconsistent ever since, though there can be no denying that he’s attained a certain “cult hero” status at Spurs thanks to his versatility and commitment to the cause.

2017: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to Liverpool, £35m

Oxlade-Chamberlain left Arsenal and won the league three years later. Getty

After turning down a contract offer from Arsenal, Oxlade-Chamberlain briefly flirted with the idea of moving to Chelsea before opting to join Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool in a hefty £35m transfer.

Looking to bolster his trophy cabinet, clearly he made the right choice, as the Reds have gone onto experience glory on both the domestic and continental stage, with the Ox playing his part despite suffering a number of unfortunate injuries along the way.

2016: Serge Gnabry to Werder Bremen, £4.5m

Hindsight can be cruel sometimes but when Arsenal let 21-year-old Gnabry leave for just £4.5m four years ago not many fans batted an eyelid at his departure.

The German forward had failed to impress during a loan spell at West Brom that culminated in manager Tony Pulis infamously deriding the young midfielder’s fitness and commitment levels.

It’s fair to say Gnabry has bucked his ideas up in the intervening years, moving onwards and upwards to become a mainstay of Bayern Munich’s all-conquering Treble team and a Champions League-winning superstar in his own right.

2012: Christian Benteke to Aston Villa, £8m

The Belgian striker first arrived in the Premier League from Belgian side KRC Genk, signing for Villa in a deal worth around £8m.

Benteke scored 19 goals in his debut season, a total he’s never subsequently managed to better either with Villa, Liverpool or current club Crystal Palace — for whom he’s scored four league goals in the past two years.


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2011: Mikel Arteta to Arsenal, £10.8m

Little did we know that when 29-year-old Arteta arrived at Arsenal from Everton on deadline day as something of a reliable, low-key midfield acquisition, he would one day be managing the club less than a decade later.

The Spanish midfielder signed after it looked like negotiations had broken down entirely, handing in an official transfer request to force the move through at the 11th hour.

It proved to be an active day of trading for the Gunners who also managed to bring in Per Mertesacker, Andre Santos and Yossi Benayoun all within hours of one another.

“Hit and miss” is probably the politest description.

2008: Pablo Zabaleta to Manchester City, £7.8m

Zabaleta made his name as one of the best right-backs in the league. PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

City signed a largely unknown 23-year-old right-back from Espanyol only to see him swiftly become a bastion of their transformation from perennial also-rans to Premier League-dominating colossi.

Costing just £7.8m at the outset, Zabaleta dedicated the best nine years of his career to the City cause before departing as a bona fide club legend and moving on to West Ham in 2017.

2006: Ashley Cole to Chelsea, £5m plus William Gallas

A transfer so acrimonious you could write a book about it, Cole left boyhood club Arsenal to join cross-town rivals Chelsea in a deal so strained and overwrought it came to define people’s perception of the left-back for years to come.

It began with allegations of tapping-up, as threats of legal action and suspensions culminated with Cole leaving Highbury for just £5m, with William Gallas moving the other way as a makeweight in a deal that was so complicated it had to be confirmed hours after the window shut.

Cole never quite lived the drama down, though he probably consoled himself by winning a Premier League title, four FA Cups, one Champions League and a Europa League in his eight years with the Blues.


2005: Sergio Ramos to Real Madrid, €27m

Los Blancos paid just €27m to prise Ramos from Sevilla and immediately set about investing their faith in the centre-back — the only signing of Florentino Perez’s first tenure as Real president still playing at the club (though Zinedine Zidane is manager of course.)

He was handed Fernando Hierro’s old No. 4 jersey and soon began to live up to his billing, eventually being made club captain on his way to becoming one of the most decorated footballers of all time — and we’re not just talking about the myriad red and yellow cards.

2004: Wayne Rooney to Manchester United, £33.3m

After thundering onto the scene with Everton as a teenager, Rooney made the step up to United in a deal worth £33.3m — a bargain in retrospect.

The striker went on to score 253 goals for United as he won five Premier League titles, an FA Cup, a Champions League and a Europa League, among various other trophies and accolades.

Indeed, when Rooney left United in 2017 he did so having overtaken the great Sir Bobby Charlton as the club’s all-time top goal scorer.


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